AT ANY AGE, NEW STUDIES REVEALED DARK CHOCOLATE MAY:
- Lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels.
- Reduce risk of diabetes by reducing blood sugar and insulin.
- Activate enzymes that eliminate cancer−causing carcinogens.
- Reduce the risk of blood clots and strokes by inhibiting clumping of blood platelets.
- Keep cholesterol levels stable or even slightly improve them.
- Enhance cognitive function by increasing blood flow in the brain.
A nine year study of women ages 48 – 83 found that those who ate a small amount of Swedish chocolate once or twice weekly had a one-third lower risk of developing heart failure. Those who ate it daily received no protective benefit. Women who ate chocolate a couple of times a month also showed some benefit, but not as much as the weekly group.
Also significant was the quality of chocolate the women consumed, which had a higher amount of cocoa solids than average American chocolate. Swedish milk chocolate contains 30% cocoa solids, while dark chocolate contains 35%. By comparison, U.S. standards for dark chocolate require only 15% cocoa solids — half that of Swedish milk chocolate.
That doesn’t mean American women need to eat 2X as much dark chocolate to protect their hearts, cautions Linda Van Horn, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “Chocolate is not magical and does not work in isolation,” she says. A diet that is high in fiber, fruits and vegetables, fish “and a little chocolate,” she adds, is best for avoiding weight gain and preventing heart disease.
The study, published this month in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, was conducted by researchers from Harvard University and Sweden’s Institute of Environmental Medicine. They looked at the heart failure rates of nearly 32,000 women who had filled out food consumption questionnaires as part of a Swedish mammography study.
Nearly 6 million Americans have heart failure and one in four women will die from heart disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. I know that I’ll be doing my part adding dark chocolate to my weekly menu. Hey, it’s for my health! Now I ask you: Will you be going to the dark side too for your health?